Welding clamps are used for a wide range of purposes, the most popular of which is to hold the two pieces of metal while they’re being worked on. Some other uses include clamping down a workpiece while it’s being drilled or machined, or simply providing bonus support when welding in awkward and difficult positions. There are many different types of welding clamps.
Lately, magnetic welding clamp types are becoming increasingly more popular, and for the right reasons. While C-clamps, vice clamps and F-clamps are also frequently used, magnetic clamps simply offer more convenience, making your welding process more efficient.
Why Use Magnetic Clamps?
The main reason for using magnetic clamps is that they’re the easiest to use. You don’t need extra tools, and you can simply attach and detach them with one hand. This is extremely important for welders, as they need to hold the torch with the other hand.
Advantages and Disadvantages of Magnetic Clamps
There are many advantages and disadvantages of using a magnetic welding clamp rather than a C, vice or F-clamp. As briefly aforementioned, they increase your productivity. Rather than twisting traditional screw-type clamps in and out constantly, you simply stick the magnet of the magnetic clamp to the surface and get to welding. It doesn’t get simpler than that.
Moreover, they’re more convenient for welding larger pieces of metal. When welding towards the middle of larger square, structural, rectangular or circular workpiece with a magnetic clamp, you get extra convenience. A magnetic welding earth clamp also allows you to ground your weld. When using a magnetic welding earth clamp, all the current passes through the clamp, ensuring the machine and the weld remain uncompromised.
Next, magnetic clamps are great for applications where just a part of the base metal is exposed, such as automotive repairs where only a body panel is stripped down to bare metal in a specific area. On top of this, magnetic clamps are great for welding sheets of metal. With magnetic clamps, you won’t have to worry about using complex fixtures. Instead, simply place the clamp on the corner of the joint to hold the sheets securely.
As a bonus, you get reduced costs by not having to use complex fixtures such as dogs and wedges. Moreover, if you needed two people to perform a weld with conventional clamps, you can do the job alone with magnetic clamps.
On the flip side, magnetic clamps can only be used on ferrous materials, meaning that in applications where you need to weld metals like aluminium or non-ferrous stainless steel, you’ll need to use conventional clamps.
Furthermore, magnetic clamps require extra attention and care. You can’t just throw them with the rest of your equipment and expect to get a lot of use from them. They can also stick to other tools. Additionally, the clamp can get demagnetised, either partly or completely. And if that happens, it can fall off the workpiece, which can be dangerous, costly and inconvenient.
Last but not least, the magnet can interfere with the weld, especially when it’s used close to the weld bead. It can cause arc blow, which can be hard to control, decreasing the overall quality of your weld.
Alternatives to Magnetic Clamps
When using magnetic clamps isn’t suitable, whether because the materials you’re working on are non-ferrous, the workpiece is sensitive to the magnet, or you need superior clamping, you can always use the conventional types of clamps. After all, they’ve been used for hundreds of years by professional welders.
If you need such a clamping and grounding solution, you can weld a dog or stud onto the workpiece. The dog can be welded onto a plate of material, and together with a wedge, the plate can be moved and secured into position. Shipyards have been using this method, since the pieces they weld together are enormous and require high holding tolerance.
In smaller welds, where welding grounds are required and magnets are out of the question, you can use a stud or bolt to the workpiece just to ground the weld. You can then cut off smoothly after you’re done welding. This method is typically used when welding aluminium and stainless steel.
Most welders would agree that the majority of hobbyists don’t require magnetic welding clamps or ground, as their projects can be completed using the conventional, more affordable types of clamps. However, if you’re a seasoned welder looking to get the most efficiency and convenience, you should definitely consider magnetic clamps. You can find magnetic clamps in local welding stores, which will probably employ knowledgeable people who can assist you in finding the best one. Another option is to look for magnetic clamps online, which is where you’ll find the most choice. Look for a set of at least two clamps for your welding project, but in general, the more – the merrier.